Monday, March 31, 2014

Creative Seeds (StoredStory #13 )

I feel lucky that I can think of some wonderfully nurturing moments from my days as a kid in school. Especially if you are a creative type,  nurturing teachers leave lasting impressions. A nurturing moment plants a seed that becomes rooted as a fond memory that will sustain you even in dark times.

When I was in second grade, I had visited my aunt and uncle who own a farm. We lived four hours away from the rest of our family, but we made several visits throughout each year. However, this visit to agrarian living must have sparked something inside; I ended up writing a story. Not only did I write the story, I made it into a picture book that I bound with glue. Having learned from my wonderful school librarian about the anatomy of books, I even created a book spine out of a strip of paper.

I took this book into class one day and showed it to Mrs. Ryan. Mrs. Ryan had a smile as wide as a white-kernel ear of corn. She used to let me help "grade" by checking answers in the teacher's book against what other students had put on their papers. This was probably during times when I was too sick to go outside during recess. I felt special during "grading" and wanted to become a teacher.

When I brought my book in, Mrs. Ryan took time out of our class day to let me stand in front of the class and read my story. As I read, I turned my book toward the class to show the pictures just as my teachers always did when they read to us. The book was peopled with stick figured farmers and stick cows. There was probably a barn. Maybe a house too.

Mrs. Ryan's thoughtful, kind act left such an impression in my young mind. She let me have space to share my creativity with my fellow classmates. What took less than five minutes of class time communicated a lasting message that remains with me to this day.

When I taught English at a technical college, I once asked my students to write a journal entry about a teacher or mentor who had influenced them in some way while they were growing up. Sadly, there were some who could think of no one. (Or, maybe they refused to). I can think of many adults who gave me more than they might have realized by just letting me be me. For that, I am forever thankful.

Children  need moments where mentoring adults plant seeds that will last a lifetime. This is the way the world gets freshly created over and over through the generations from age to age.

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